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Too poor to demand basic rights from government

Villagers in Indias north-eastern state of Tripura lack basic civic amenities like water, hospital, school, etc. and yet are content with their voter identity cards issued by the government. Poverty inhibits them from demanding even their basic rights.

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Bangladesh: Safe sex and stronger policy for AIDS prevention

Insufficient statistics and lack of a sound HIV/AIDS prevention policy are undermining Bangladesh’s efforts to protect people against its risks. It is necessary to break the barriers of social stigmas attached to the disease and promote condom use beyond family planning purposes, say health experts.

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Little protection against rains for cyclone victims in Bangladesh

Even after three months of Cyclone Sidr hitting Bangladesh, some 1.3 million affected people are living under plastic sheeting, tarpaulins and other basic shelters exposing them to the approaching monsoon rains. Oxfam says that it is vital that the government and the international community urgently devise a better plan.

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Pakistan poll verdict: ‘Musharraf should quit’

Election results in Pakistan may have thrown up a hung parliament but the verdict is unequivocal, when it comes to expressing the will of the people in ousting President Musharraf. It remains to be seen how far the democratic process from here goes.

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Mass deportation to add to woes of Afghanistan

Afghanistan government has urged Iran not to deport its illegal migrants, as it does not have the capacity to absorb them. More than two million Afghans live in Iran, of which less than half have the status of valid refugees.

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India does poorly to keep its children alive, says report

According to a new Wealth and Survival Index, India is one of the worst performers in cutting child mortality, given its national wealth. The new report by Save the Children UK says even the poorest of countries can attain child survival if they pursue the right policies.

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‘Widowhood means denial of basic human rights’

Being a widow in a socially backward and less developed country is hard. Subjected to ostracism, exploitation and harassment, they are forced to live in poverty and deprivation. President of UK-based Loomba Trust, Cherie Blair says that the UN needs to increase its focus on emancipation of widows.

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First ever welfare board for transgenders

In a step taken to protect rights of sexual minorities, the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India has announced the establishment of a welfare board for transgenders. The move followed a public hearing by NGOs on the plight of the community and recommendations by a citizens’ jury.

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Election day in Pakistan

Even three hours after polls opened, voter turnout in Pakistan was not very encouraging. Although, President Pervez Musharraf has urged people to come out of the confrontationist approach and get into a conciliatory mood, many refrained from venturing out for fear of attacks.

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Largest all-women expedition to Everest

Thirteen spirited Nepali women will make the bold journey to Mount Everest this spring. Backed by the United Nations, these women will draw attention to the impact of climate change on the Himalayas, and hope that their effort will inspire other women across Nepal to follow their dreams.

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Afghanistan plagued by pneumonia

Pneumonia has taken epidemic proportions in Afghanistan, where over 170,000 patients have been diagnosed with the disease in past one month. Food insecurity, lack of awareness and unhygienic conditions are only adding to the problems of people, who are facing the harshest winter in many years.

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Low-carbon economy good for business, says UN Chief

The carbon market makes good business and moral sense, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at a recent gathering of global business leaders at New York. He also called for investment in technological innovations to make possible the transition to a green economy.

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Bird watching to save habitats

An unusual corporate environmental programme by a global bank draws over a hundred bird enthusiasts each year in India. The annual bird races promote awareness of natural habitats and help collect data. The last race at Bangalore spotted 277 bird species – a quarter of all birds found on the Indian subcontinent.

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Endosulfan victims still suffer in India

Even after the ban on its use, the hazardous impact of pesticide Endosulfan sprayed in cashew plantations in Kerala, continues to affect the communities. The state government's relief package of Rs 5 million and other schemes have proved inadequate to rehabilitate the victims.

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Seminaries luring children to ‘paradise’

In many of the recent suicide attacks in Pakistan, children have been used as suicide bombers or fidayeens. According to a study done by a Lahore-based NGO, seminaries are indoctrinating impressionable minds with fanatical teachings.

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Tortured Bangladeshi journalist tells his tale

Tasneem Khalil, a journalist working for Daily Star and CNN, was picked up by military intelligence in Bangladesh in a midnight raid and was badly beaten up. His case is just the tip of the iceberg, as tens of thousands are arbitrarily detained and tortured by security forces, says Human Rights Watch.

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India: A million deaths by smoking

Smoking kills nearly a million people a year in India. A new study reveals that tuberculosis rather than cancer is the common cause of death among Indians who smoke. The study also says that only 2% of smokers quit – and that too because they are too sick to continue.

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No bed of roses for new government in Pakistan

Pakistan is in a shambles on all fronts. The economy is in tatters with soaring inflation, a slowdown in growth, rising debt burden, trade imbalance and more. For the new government in Pakistan, it will be a colossal task to clean up the mess.

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A suffering Bharat vs shining India

A new government survey says 20% of rural India lives on Rs 12 a day. Just a few months ago another survey had said 77% of the country survived on less than Rs 20. Contrary to the expectations of proponents of neo-liberal regime, it appears gains of a growing economy are not trickling down.

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Coming to terms with suicide loss

A support group in Pune, in the state of Maharashtra, has now started reaching out to those who live with the painful memory of a suicide in the family. More than 100,000 people take their own lives every year in India, where levels of stress are increasing by the day.

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